Today, NOW endorsed "progressive" candidate Alan Sandals in the PA Democratic senate primary race.
N.O.W. deserves some modicum of congratulations for being the first to break with the Democratic party bosses and reject Bob Casey, jr. But they really blew it on making a difference.
It's hard to imagine a women's organization doing a worse job in advocating for womens' rights than N.O.W. has done in Pennsylvania.
Now, they've endorsed a candidate who has built almost no grassroots base (except in a weak base in Philadelphia) who spent a bundle on TV commercials with little effect, Alan Sandals, a Philadelphia attorney who professes to be a progressive who will also pull moderate voters.
Sorry, but here in PA, Sandals is not a viable candidate.
Casey's real threat has been Chuck Pennacchio, an activist who has significant experience with winning senate campaigns, something PA democrats are totally devoid of. When Sandals entered the fray, he diluted the focus of progressives and pro-choice voters. It must have given cause for Casey's campaign to breath a real sigh of relief.
By giving Sandals fizzling, almost lonely, grassroots weak campaign a shot in the arm, instead of supporting Pennacchio, who is firmly pro Roe v.Wade and abortion rights, NOW has only helped Casey. If they'd supported Pennacchio, they would have unified behind the strongest campaign opposing Casey. By supporting Sandals, they split the energy and confuse the issues.
My guess is they are supporting Sandals because Pennacchio does support the requirement that 13 year olds notify their parents' (not permission, just notification, with an exceptions for judicial bypass and medical emergency ) before getting an abortion. Since parental permission is required for just about any medical procedure a 13 year old seeks, this seems reasonable to me, as a parent. But maybe it was a line that NOW's extremist members couldn't live with. Just as the NRA refuses to accept limits on automatic weapons, suggesting that any limitation is a loss, perhaps NOW is thinking the same way. Apparently, Sandals was insisting upon notification AND permission, but he flip-flopped to get NOW's endorsement. My guess is Sandals flip-flopped to get the endorsement. NOW endorsed him because he flip-flopped for them, and perhaps also, because he IS taking PAC money, which Pennacchio refuses to do. Now that Sandals has shown he'll flip flop, and since we already know he takes PAC money, that makes him appear much more likely to be "amenable" and owing to the NOW PAC. Pennacchio is running on his independence and refusal to take PAC money as one of his strengths. This makes me trust Pennacchio more, Sandals less. Who else will he flip flop for when offered and opportunity? Hell, he's a lawyer.
Joanne Tosti-Vasey, the current president of PA NOW, was probably the person who had the biggest influence on NOW national's decision to endorse Sandals. But Kathy Miller, PA NOW's past president, has endorsed Pennacchio.
NOW has done no good in PA with this endorsement. They've gone with a candidate who had no shot at winning, against a candidate who has built an extraordinary grassroots base. Alan Sandals isn't a bad man, or a bad candidate. But he hasn't done his job. He got in the race late and has not put even a tiny fraction of the campaigning effort into the race the Pennacchio has done. Unlike Casey, if hell froze over and Sandals won, I wouldn't have a problem voting for him. But he won't win. This is no disaster for the Pennacchio campaign, since NOW has no huge presence in PA.